I am partial to Australia's take on food and coffee. In my opinion there really is no where in the world that gets it like we do. We are prepared to experiment, take risks and the important one - travel to find what we are looking for! It truly is an inspiration, and there is one Aussie publishing house that is taking the lead with their collection of culinary masterpieces.
Smudge is a family run business consisting of the bond between mother and daughters, and their passion of all things food! Their business, now 6 years old, is flourishing with the launch of their blog Smudge Eats, an online portal of all things foodie orientated; and their newest book 'The Specialty Coffee Book New South Wales'. The second addition to their Specialty Coffee Book series - showcasing Sydney’s best coffee makers and cafes throughout New South Wales and exploring the journey from farm to cup. In Australia there is always a passionate barista ready and waiting to make the best coffee possible - and it isn't a lie when you hear Australia serves some of the best roasted beans in the world. As Smuge puts it so brilliantly "It really is the difference between the old flagon of wine and a great Grange" - this book does just that, by finding coffee’s Grange equivalent!
Dani Wilton, a founding partner of Smudge Publishing, gave me some insight into their business and what we can expect next from this vibrant bunch!
Thank you Dani!
Name: Dani Wilton.
Hometown: Melbourne, Australia.
Current Location: Melbourne, Australia.
Tell me a little about your background - what did you study and what lead you to where you are now?
I studied marketing and advertising at University and have always had a love of food since I was a little girl. My mum, sister and I have all combined our skills together with passion and created what we have today which is an Australian based publishing house, which works in print and also digitally. We have been working pretty hard at it for the past 6 years and feel pretty happy with what we have achieved so far.
You are a family run business consisting of Mum, two Daughters and a team of 14, what are the pro's and con's of working with family?
Yes – family businesses are always interesting. We get along really well – mum and I are the big dreamers and Katie is the realistic one, which is what we need to bring us back down to earth. We wouldn’t be anywhere close to where we are now without our wonderful team, everyone brings so much to the table and all in very diverse ways. We all have one thing in common and that is food, so we are never short of words. I really enjoy coming to work and seeing my friend’s every-day!
For the past 6 years you have in your words "Printed your passions on Paper" - Creating books that focus on the ever growing Australian Food & Coffee scene. Why do you think Australian's get it so right?
That is correct, we are all so passionate about food, wine and coffee at Smudge that I think it is only natural that our writing comes across as wonderful as it does. I think Australia is so far ahead of some countries in terms of food and coffee is because we are a very entrepreneurial country. We love to travel and explore what other people are doing around the world and then bring it home and do it better ourselves. It really is phenomenal what we are producing and especially here in Melbourne.
Your new book 'The Specialty Coffee Book NSW' is the second edition of its type and focuses on showcasing Sydney and New South Wales' best coffee makers and cafes. Tell me about how this idea came about and give us some insight into the creative direction of the book and what process you use to select the best?
The Specialty Coffee Book VIC (Victoria) was the first of the book in it’s series and it came about from the success of our Coffee Encounters book. We travelled to 17 different countries around the world, including Africa, South America and India in search of the best coffee beans that are being brought home to Australia and being roasted here by our top roasters. The Specialty Coffee Book series was a natural progression, bringing home the stories from around the world compiled with the best café’s from Sydney and Melbourne. The New South Wales book showcases 134 cafes from around Sydney and we choose the café’s based on what coffee they are using and if they are up to the Smudge standard.
If there was one place to pick from this book where would you go and what would you order?
This is a tricky question - I don’t think I could choose one – there are so many fantastic places. I would probably go to a café on the beach because I am from Melbourne and I don’t get to see the ocean very often.
How do you draw inspiration and what general process is involved in the creation of your books?
Our inspiration is drawn from everyone and everything as well as the restaurants, café’s and bars that are in our books. Our photographers, Katie (my sister) and Amanda Davenport work really hard to capture the best images they can, usually spending around 2-3 hours at each venue. Susan Hardjono is our senior graphic designer who has taken our books to a whole new level. I used to do most of the design for our books, but since she has stepped in – they are seriously good. She spends a lot of time working on the type faces that are right for the book and in trend as well as working out layouts that complement the photography. She has also introduced illustrators into our books, which is now what is setting us apart from the rest.
What is your favourite subject matter and why?
My favourite subject matter is food. I think about it, read about it and look at it all day, everyday.
What 3 things should we coffee novices look for in a cup of coffee?
Good milk, a good barista (preferably bearded) and making sure it is specialty coffee.
Images © Smudge Publishing.
Describe Smudge in 5 words… Design. Foodies. Fun. Cool. Knowledgeable.
All time favourite recipe… Anything slow roasted I love. Probably don’t have an all time favourite, but this 4 hour slow roasted wagyu recipe from The Cut bar and Grill in Sydney is pretty awesome.
Stovetop - with or without milk… Without.
Sit-down or Takeaway… Sit down… with wine.
We are currently obsessing over… Donuts.
We can’t start the day without… Music.
Dream project or collaboration… Flavours of New York City.
On Saturday you will find us… Trying out the latest café or dining at one of Melbourne/Sydney’s top spots with friends. There are also some great markets around at the moment, so probably at one of those as well.
Sydney's best kept coffee secret… Little Marionette in St Peters.
Melbourne's best kept foodie secret… Little Saigon Markets in Footscray.
Whats on the drawing board... Wow – everything. We are about to release Flavours of Queensland as well as Flavours of South Australia. Flavours of Bali in the works along with The Booze Book NSW. We set our dreams high!
Images © Smudge Publishing. Artificer Specialty Coffee Bar & Roastery, Surry Hills .
Images © Smudge Publishing. Sensory Lab, Bondi Beach.